Princess Leia: Luke, what’s wrong?
Luke: Leia, do you remember your mother? Your real mother?
Princess Leia: Just a little bit. She died when I was very young.
Luke: What do you remember?
Princess Leia: Just… images really. Feelings.
Luke: Tell me.
Princess Leia: She was… very beautiful. Kind, but sad. Why are you asking me this?
Luke: I have no memory of my mother. I never knew her.
For the inaugural post on The Imperial Talker, I thought I would dive right in and wrestle with a continuity issue that has bugged me since I first saw Revenge of the Sith – and it relates directly to the exchange between Luke and Leia in Return of the Jedi which I provided above. In fact, as a good Star Wars fan, you probably already know where I am going with this, but for those who are unsure, I will clue you in:
Leia’s (and Luke’s) “real mother,” Padme Amidala, dies at the end of Revenge of the Sith immediately after giving birth to the twins.
Whoops! That is a bit awkward.
Things get even more awkward when one remembers that Revenge of the Sith was made 20 years after Return of the Jedi. One would have thought that to make this exchange work, George Lucas would have kept Leia and Padme together long enough for a young Leia to remember her “beautiful,” “kind,” and “sad” mother before she died. But he didn’t, and we are subsequently stuck with a pretty glaring continuity error, one that to my knowledge has yet to be fixed, let alone adequately addressed.
Now, at this point, one might argue that this error doesn’t matter, that the exchange about Leia’s mother is only one detail in the larger exchange between the siblings. On the surface, you wouldn’t be wrong.
As a whole, the entire dialogue between Luke and Leia works very well to establish the two as siblings and is rather moving, particularly when considered in conjunction with a number of other scenes. Yet, the exchange about Leia’s mother begins this exchange and, as such, sets the tone for it. By asking about Leia’s mother, Luke does something that at no other point has he done before: he actually wants to discover something about his mom.
Think about it, when has Luke ever cared to find something out about the woman who gave birth to him? He has obsessed about his father, but his mom has been absent from his conversations with his uncle, his aunt, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda. But here, in this intimate moment with the girl he just recently learned is his sister, he asks a question about his mother, gleaning anything he can from Leia about this woman he never knew.
In turn, Leia provides a glimpse of her mother: that she died when Leia was young; that she can only recall images of her mother; and that her mother was “kind” and “beautiful” but “sad.”
Then, Leia asks a question of Luke: “Why are you asking me this?”
As a viewer, we know why Luke is asking, even though Leia does not: because Leia’s mother is Luke’s mother and we get to learn about this mystery woman along with Luke. It is unfortunate, then, that Luke, along with viewer, has been deceived…
When George Lucas made Revenge of the Sith, and showed Padme Amidala’s death immediately after Luke and Leia were born, this intimate exchange in Return of the Jedi was effectively watered down thanks to the creation of unnecessary confusion. Now, Star Wars fans and casual movie goer were left wondering: How does Leia know anything about her mother since her mother died only moments after Leia was born? Given the that the new and improved Star Wars universe is being carefully created, edited, and maintained by the powers at Lucasfilm/Disney, fixing continuity issues should be just as important as ensuring future continuity. As such, two initial solutions, albeit inadequate ones come to mind immediately:
Inadequate Solution # 1 – As a baby, only minutes old, Leia was able to form a complex physical and emotional understanding of her mother. I feel I do not need to explain why this answer is inadequate in relation to basic issues of early childhood cognitive development. Rather, I would argue that this answer falls flat because if Leia could form these thoughts, why couldn’t Luke?
Inadequate Solution # 2 – Leia is actually talking about her stepmother, Breha Organa. Let’s recall for a moment that Luke asks Leia if she remembers her “real mother” and that Leia explains to Luke that her mother “died when I was very young.” The implication here is that Luke and Leia both know Leia was adopted at a very young age by the Organa’s. Given that Leia was a member of the Imperial Senate and a ranking leader within the Rebellion, it would be unlikely that, all of a sudden, she is mistaking her stepmother as her real mother. In turn, if she were describing Breha Organa, then, this creates a weird contradiction in and of itself: that Breha died when Leia was young, something that the new Princess Leia comic series shows did NOT happen.
Inadequate Solution # 3 – Leia is knowingly lying to Luke. Besides the silliness of this possible answer, this solution falls short because the entirety of the exchange between Luke and Leia does not hint at any possibility of false information being presented. On the contrary, their dialogue is intimate, and as they continue talking – about Vader being Luke’s father, about the Force being strong in Luke’s family, and about Leia being Luke’s sister – they are actually drawn closer as siblings. If Leia is lying, then the scene would be watered down in a different way: by undermining the connection Luke and Leia establish as siblings, which is precisely why I call this solution silly.
Again, these are just initial solutions that pop into mind to make sense out of what Leia says to Luke. I am sure that other inadequate solutions could be thought up pretty easily, but I would rather move on to a more positive look at this topic.
Rather than continue to dwell on the confusing nature of this continuity issue, or the inadequate possibilities to solve it, I want to present my own fix for this continuity issue. So, in Part II, I will do just that – make sure to check back in a few days.
In the meantime, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on this issue and if you have any other continuity issues you would like to see me address in the future.
Thanks for reading and May the Fourth be with you!!!
 Two in particular of note: 1) When Luke discovers Leia is his sister when talking with ghost Kenobi and; 2) When Vader taunts Luke about turning his “sista” to the Dark Side.